Dir: Thomas Lilti
After the brilliant French dramedy The Intouchables I was always going to see anything starring Francois Cluzet, and he doesn’t disappoint in the gorgeous The Country Doctor. A more direct and, I believe accurate, translation of the film’s french title is Irreplaceable. The film follows devoted country doctor Jean-Pierre (Cluzet) and the village that’s relied on him for countless years. But soon Jean-Pierre is the one who’s sick and his life is rocked by Nathalie (Marianne Denicourt), a replacement doctor sent from the city.
Director Thomas Lilti nails the trials and tribulations of a local GP’s office, (Lifti is a doctor himself), having already drawn on his medical experience in his previous movie Hippocrates. With only two films under his belt he’s an absolute natural at writing and directing. All the characters – including the many quirky country inhabitants – come across fully formed, and the film itself has a beautiful and intimate hand-held quality. And being a French film he’s not afraid to shy away from some social commentary too.
The leading duo is wonderful here. Cluzet was an audience favourite with his understated and cheeky charm, and Denicourt (Sade) is his equal as the strong and resourceful Nathalie. There aren’t many meaty roles for 40-something actresses and Denicourt shows us that there needs to be with her engaging turn here. I just hope the eventual American remake, obviously starring George Clooney, doesn’t cast a 20-something actress and tie up the nice open-ended finish here. The eclectic supporting cast are a treat too; the country-town subplots are worthy of a TV show on their own.
This is the classy adult comedy-drama you’ve been waiting for. The Country Doctor is funny, moving and will leave you with a joie de vivre as Nina Simone’s Wild is the Wind plays over the closing credits.
Saturday July 23rd, 3:45pm. Event Cinemas Westgate.
Monday July 25th, 11:45am. Rialto Cinemas Newmarket.